Selected start-ups will receive a $50,000 grant and support to catalyze growth-driven partnerships with donors, industry and institutions
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Investing in Innovation (i3), a pan-African approach to supporting 60 health tech companies innovating in the supply chain over the next 2 years, has revealed its first cohort of 30 African companies that will benefit from its $7 million fund.
Funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and sponsored by Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD), the World Health Organization Regional Office for Africa, AUDA-NEPAD, and AmerisourceBergen, i3 unites leading donors, industry and African institutions to jump-start a new way of doing business to support African-led innovations in health.
The 30 companies selected hail from 14 African countries operating in early and growth stages. 47% of the companies are women-led (which the program defines as having at least one woman with an equity stake and active executive leadership role), and 30% of the companies are operating in Francophone Africa.
The selected companies are delivering novel solutions for device and medicines distribution, stock management and financing, authentication, traceability, medical waste management and more.
Ann Allen, Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said: “Digitally-enabled, locally-led innovations have huge potential to help address the challenges of access to medicines for historically unserved patients in Africa. We are thrilled to see strong women leaders at the helm of many of these start-ups, as we know innovation ecosystems are strengthened by diversity.”
i3 is coordinated by Salient Advisory, SCIDaR, and SouthBridge A&I and is operationalized by leading technology hubs across the continent: CCHub for West Africa, Startupbootcamp for Southern Africa, IMPACT Lab for North and French-speaking Africa, and Villgro Africa for East Africa. These hubs are responsible for the selection process and the follow-up of the startups throughout the program.
Efosa Ojomo, Director, Global Prosperity at the Clayton Christensen Institute, and member of the i3 Steering Committee said: “i3’s focus on African ingenuity is long overdue – supporting locally-led, market-creating innovations to scale will equip the continent to achieve health gains, generate prosperity and weather future crises.”
“The innovation represented by the start-ups selected is inspiring. At MSD, we are excited by the opportunity to collaborate with these leading innovators through i3, to help transform health care supply chains and improve access to medicines across Africa,” Dr Abdullahi Sheriff, Associate Vice President of Global Market Access at MSD said on the funding support.
The selected companies are: Chekkit Technologies, Disrupt Pharma Tech Africa (Medsaf), DrugStoc Ehub Limited, Erith Health Services, Gricd, LifeBank, Lifestores Healthcare, OneHealth, ClinicPesa, Damu Sasa, The Pathology Network, Negus Med, Signalytic, Viebeg Technologies, Zuri Health, Xetova, Cure Bionics, DeepEcho, Dr Sett, Infiuss Health Limited, Medevice, Meditect, Sobrus, Valorigo, Azanza Health, Appy Saude, Aviro Health, Contro, VaxiGlobal, Zinacare.